Peter Thiel, one of the co-founders of PayPal and an early investor of Facebook, recently went on CNBC to talk about Twitter, Google, and a few other services. Thiel, famous for his strong opinions and harsh lack of tact, had some not-so-kind words for Twitter in particular, claiming that it’s mostly run by pot smokers.
According to CNBC, Thiel participated in a Squawk Box interview and used the opportunity to bash everything from Twitter to Apple to Uber car services. The real shock here is that Peter Thiel claims Twitter is not populated by pot-smoking users, but rather that the site itself is operated by people who smoke a lot of pot.
“Twitter is hard to evaluate,” said Theil. “They have a lot of potential. It’s a horribly mismanaged company—probably a lot of pot-smoking going on there. But it’s such a solid franchise it may even work with all that.”
Despite his criticism of Twitter, Peter Thiel did not say that the CEO of the company should be removed from his position. In what could be construed as a back-handed compliment, Thiel said that Twitter can’t do much better than Dick Costolo.
“I’m not sure they could do that much better,” Thiel explained. “The CEO can’t really change things that much in these companies. You’d have to fire everybody and start over.”
It’s not surprising that Peter Thiel would lash out against Twitter when you learn that Thiel doesn’t own any shares of the company. While sites Thiel has invested in like Facebook and PayPal continue to thrive, Twitter is struggling to keep up.
According to Forbes, Peter Thiel may have a point about Twitter. As Thiel is probably aware, the company’s stock is down 20 percent in 2014, and its user-base has been growing more slowly than ever. Because of this, the website is considering a complete code-overhaul, changing the Twitter feed format to resemble the feeds on Facebook — with complex algorithms determining what content users see and at what time, rather than the reverse chronological system Twitter has now.
It’s possible this is a wise change, because according to Peter Thiel, Twitter could be managing their website much more effectively.
“One of the paradoxes is when you have a business model as good as Twitter—where you have 140 characters, no one can copy it, no one can compete—you can be screwing a lot of other stuff,” said Thiel. “The management can be B plus. Maybe some people come in at 10:30 and leave at 5 p.m. It feels like it’s vastly underperforming its potential.”